Newly elected New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper is planning to announce committee chairs for the upcoming legislative session.
Jasper, a Republican who won the speakership largely with support from Democrats, has promised to appoint only Republicans to serve as chairs and vice chairs. He will announce his appointments Thursday. The House has 21 committees, ranging from criminal justice and public safety to health, human services and elderly affairs.
The first public meeting between House and Senate negotiators working to fix the state’s Medicaid enhancement tax lasted all of 20 minutes, but parties are optimistic a deal can be struck.
Representative Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, used the hearing to reiterate the House’s position that despite court rulings declaring the tax unlawful, the New Hampshire Supreme Court will see otherwise.
“We continue to believe that our Medicaid enhancement tax is constitutional,” Rosenwald told colleagues. She says it adheres to both federal and state law.
New Hampshire's House has twice passed legislation to repeal the death penalty with the governor's blessing, but the second attempt has cost them a key supporter in the Senate. Republican Sen. Bob Odell, who voted for repeal, said Friday that he won't vote to take up the issue again. The first bill stalled in the Senate on a 12-12 vote last month, but supporters may have overplayed their hand by sending a second bill to the Senate for a vote Thursday. The Senate has the option of passing the amended bill, killing it or asking the House to compromise.
The House highways and tax committees are holding a joint hearing next week on a proposal to raise the tax on gas and diesel by 4 cents. The hearing will be held Tuesday. The Senate-passed bill would provide more money over the next two years for highway improvements, then take some of the tax proceeds to pay off $200 million in borrowing toward completion of the I-93 project. Once the debt is paid off in roughly 20 years, the tax hike would expire. The bill would also eliminate the Exit 12 ramp toll booths in Merrimack.
The bill was endorsed by its house committee as a way to protect the minors from skin damage that could contribute to cancer, but on the house floor it provoked a heated debate over parental rights and the proper role of government. Steve Vaillancourt is a Republican from Manchester.
"A young women if this bill passes can get an abortion, but not a tan, an abortion would be legal but a tan would not, think of it."
Moments later the House voted 175-154 to both kill the bill and bar the issue from coming up again this year.
College students who entered the U.S. illegally could get in-state tuition at University of New Hampshire System schools if they met certain requirements.
The House votes Wednesday on a bill that would require the students to be a graduate of a high school in the state or to have gotten a New Hampshire high school equivalency certificate to be eligible for the in-state rate.
They would have to have had to attend a state high school for three years before graduating or receiving an equivalency certificate and have met all the other criteria for in-state rates.
The House not only rejected allowing police to use license plate scanners, it then took the extra step of voting 214-135 to forbid that the issue be revisited in any form this year.
While supporters argued that plates information would be retained in the scanners for just 3 minutes, and might help solve crimes, critics like Manchester Democrat Joel Winters argued they erode privacy and embolden police to improperly conduct surveillance on the innocent.
This week, the legislature returns and hears new bills. Up before the Senate judiciary committee are a proposal to establish domestic violence as a separate crime and one requiring certain persons with mental illness to be barred from owning guns and placed on a federal registry. On Thursday, the House holds its first hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty.
The debate over the minimum wage will return to the state house this session. A proposal to reestablish a state minimum wage failed last year in the Republican-controlled state Senate. This session, Democrats hope to set a state minimum wage at $8.25 an hour.